Comic-Con Report: GI Joe… Wait for the Cartoon

Snake Eyes just might be the only cool thing in GI Joe: Rise of Cobrao

With Commentary from Robert Fure, irate Joe Fan, presented in Fure Rage-O-VisionTM

Earlier this year when Film School Rejects dropped some images for the upcoming GI Joe film, a whimper and a sigh ran through fanboy circles to see the new costumes. For the Comic-Con panel on the GI Joe property on Thursday morning, we saw all those costume shots again. A bit dull, but at least we got a nice look at a couple production stills and some hints of plot.

More like a damned scream of outrage. The first two costumes we saw were fine, the rest are some garbage “Battle Armor” bull. What the hell – sad to say those horrible costumes are here to stay.

What really riled up fans, though, was the test footage from the Warren Ellis-written animated GI Joe Resolute web series. The footage was shown recently at Joe Con a few weeks back, and the Comic-Con audience seemed more excited about the new cartoon than the film. Why? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Snake Eyes kills people with a ninja sword.

No joke that cartoon looked sick. The animation test style was a Western-Asian fusion with inspiration taken from Ghost in the Shell. It was everything you want from an updated GI Joe cartoon.

Sixty minutes the GI Joe Resolute is being produced and broken up into five-minute chunks on the web. This is promised to be PG-13 type animation, featuring more intense action and harder violence. No splattering of blood, but producers did say they weren’t interested in toning things down for a children’s network.

I didn’t even notice there was no blood, just the fact that there were real gun sounds instead of lasers had already blown my mind. The designs are updates of the classics – same color schemes, you know who you’re looking at right away. Completely unlike the movie.

Then came the talk of the GI Joe movie, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura said, “We chose to do some of the core characters and make the story a bit different.” Fortunately, they consulted with GI Joe comic writer Larry Hama who put the kabash on the writers’ attempt to have Snake Eyes say a single line.

If only Larry Hama had more to do with this. Thankfully he got them to keep The Silent Master silent. Lorenzo seemed on the defensive already (more on that to come).

The plot opens with Duke and Ripcord in their pre-Joe days, following the origin of Cobra. The prime relationships in the film are between Duke and Baroness, whose backstory includes a broken engagement. Ripcord and Scarlett will give the comic relief as Marlon Wayans tries to get in Rachel Nichols’ pants.

This upset me, as you can tell. On my notepad I wrote “BULLSHIT” in capital letters underneath this. First there is the Duke-Baroness connection. We saw a still that showed Duke rescuing her at “a pivotal moment.” Then, there is a love triangle between Scarlett, Snake Eyes, and Ripcord. No thanks. They say Scarlett is really intelligent and doesn’t understand why guys think she’s hot because she grew up sheltered and fast. But don’t worry because Snake Eyes whips out his sword, apparently, to stop Ripcord from hitting on her sometimes.

The glimmer of coolness from the film focuses on the one-on-one battle between Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee). Gadgets the filmmakers claim only exist in their universe will also be used, including an “accelerator suit” which allows the wearer to run at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. “That gets you a car chase when one person isn’t even in a car,” Stuart said.

Some people seemed excited, I groaned. An “accelerator suit”? Someone chasing down a car on foot? Doesn’t sound that interesting. The guys behind the cartoon set their technology about 10 years ahead of our current stuff. So they had cool guns and who knows what else. Sort of like the old 80s cartoon, they had advanced stuff, but other than the occasional jetpack, nothing all that outrageous. In the live action, Lorenzo (who I’m getting a sense of as a meddler) said the technology is set like 30 years in the future. So we’ll probably get damned laser guns and all sorts of bologna.

After the success of Transformers last year, and the sequel being one of next summer’s tent pole releases, Paramount has been eager to develop their properties. Lorenzo revealed that the studio “gave us more money on this than they did Transformers,” which could lead to a huge success or a huge gamble. He also promised “staggerlying huge action sequences.” We are a bit skeptical, though, considering Transformers 2 is releasing on the 4th of July with GI Joe taking a later slot in August of all times.

As a fan of both the comic (past and present) and the 80s cartoon, I will of course see this movie. However, I don’t have high hopes for it. They talk about globe trekking and how much money the spent and all this stuff that doesn’t scream GI Joe to me. We will apparently get a lot of vehicles though and one still showed a MARS Technology snow-ski that had rockets on it, like from the cartoon.

I tend to get a little nervous when comic book action film directors, producers and writers hammer hard on character over plot, then promise four major action sequences that last at least ten or fifteen minutes long. Translation could be that the plot kinda stinks and they’re hoping no one will notice by slathering it up with dialogue.

Writer Stuart Beattie said four ten-minute action sequences. Lorenzo then had to interject that there was more action, sensing the disappointment in the crowd. There was a hint we might get to see Destro, who starts the film out as the main villain, with his helmet and we will definitely see Cobra Commander in some form at some point. We also get Vipers, who have been redesigned considerably, but the still wasn’t very clear.

This movie has a chance if the action is balls-out awesome. Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow look cool. Baroness is hot. I’m hoping and wishing for this to kick ass. But so far I’ve seen nothing worth getting excited over. The costumes and their “Battle Armor” are atrocious.

Its worth noting that the crowd in attendance turned fairly hostile at the end of the presentation. Notable questions included, right off the bat: “Why did you pick Heavy Duty instead of Road Block?” and “Why change it from an American team to an International team?” which immediately had everyone backpedaling, stressing that most of the characters were still American.

What I walked away from with was this: The cartoon, GI Joe Resolute, looks absolutely amazing. I’m very excited for that. It looks like a perfectly updated version of GI Joe. The movie, I’m still in the same spot – unconvinced and worried.

The saving grace was Stuart Beattie gave a nod to the other characters in the GI Joe universe when he said, “The answer to that was to do sequels.”

Don’t plan too far ahead guys, I’m not sold on this being anything close to a hit yet. Design wise its a total miss, but I’m still holding onto my last shred of hope.

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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